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1  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Farm Aid, rock 'n' roll and avoiding LA: How John Mellencamp became the ultimate on: April 15, 2019, 12:31:04 pm
https://www.omaha.com/go/music/rock_candy/farm-aid-rock-n-roll-and-avoiding-la-how-john/article_76b7ef78-39f9-5021-8d01-da47d9558ea6.html?fbclid=IwAR3NSc68S5SJ9zhtbuPxUcNAUrkicagE3S1p7IZcpjTmzq8qCHxL_ZFrTd8

Great old photos in this article!

Johnny Cash called him one of the best songwriters of all time. Bob Dylan counts his output among the best around. Today’s country stars worship his brand of heartland rock.
John Mellencamp is adored by some of the music industry’s best and by fans who still pay to put “Jack & Diane” on the jukebox or crank up “Play Guitar” whenever it comes on the radio.
Mellencamp, who plays Omaha’s Orpheum Theater on Monday, is the progenitor of Americana rock, distilling folk and rock ’n’ roll and blues and country into something distinctly Midwestern. His 1985 album, “Scarecrow,” not only left us with memorable hits — “Small Town” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” among them — it also made Mellencamp popular with rock stars and regular Midwesterners alike, cementing him as a once-in-a-generation voice who, in turn, gave voice to us here in the heartland.
Hall of Famers like Mellencamp routinely perform around here — Phil Collins, Diana Ross and Ringo Starr are all on the way soon — but few of them, if any, are as inherently middle-of-the-country as Mellencamp. He’s like us.
We were born in small towns. We live in small towns. We’ll probably die in small towns.
Ditto for Mellencamp.
“I’m not leaving Indiana. I’m going to die here,” he told Rolling Stone, echoing his own lyrics.
And Mellencamp has walked the walk in other ways. He helped create Farm Aid to help family farmers during the farm crisis of the 1980s. He physically joined farmers in grassroots protests, and showed for hearings on Capitol Hill.
Along the way, he surged past the everyman rock of Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty to become the heartland rocker.
The year after his concert at a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri, John Mellencamp spoke in front of the Senate’s agriculture committee, calling attention to farmers who were losing their land.
Mellencamp remained in Indiana because it was important to stay true to his roots, said Mike Wanchic, Mellencamp’s collaborator and guitarist of more than 40 years.
“You weren’t being influenced by the people at the Whiskey-a-Go-Go or the Rainbow Room. You’re not faced by those trends,” Wanchic told The World-Herald earlier this month. “That’s one of the things that has allowed us to maintain a long career and maintain autonomy. ... Living in isolation was an important part of it.”
Mellencamp has always been an outsider, and that, he says, helped him create alt-country and Americana.
“I had to create my own job and create my own genre and, consequently, do what I think they now call Americana,” Mellencamp told CBS.
But it’s not like he woke up one day and decided to create a genre of music. He was just doing what he knew.
During his speech at his 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Mellencamp said he found his voice with “Scarecrow,” an album that painted a bleak picture of the Midwest. It was his fifth album, and he knew what he wanted it to sound like — classic American writers such as Tennessee Williams, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner.
“I think people, particularly in the Midwest, really identified with these characters. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, ‘I’m Jack and I’m Diane. You wrote about my life.’ To me, that’s a successful song,” he told Rolling Stone.
And Mellencamp’s songs resonated with other artists, too, particularly those in country.
“About 99 percent of modern country music, I think, is about small-town life and about growing up in the heartland,” country star Jake Owen told Billboard. “There’s a part of us that all want to be kind of like him. We want to be that all-American, white-T-shirt-wearin’, roll-your-sleeves-up center and grit of America.”
Mellencamp decided to pursue music after graduating from Vincennes University, a junior college in Indiana.
He met Wanchic when both were just out of school. Wanchic was an intern at a recording studio in Indiana. Mellencamp came to record some demos. They’ve been making music together ever since.
Not all of their songs were hits. Not at first. And the responses Mellencamp and Wanchic got from producers, record executives and others were just another thing that kept them in Indiana.
“We had been making dud after dud record,” Wanchic said. “Then, all of the sudden, it happened. ‘Why don’t you move to L.A.?’ Well, we’re not moving to L.A. We remember every one of you people who thought we were absolutely horrible.”
His allegiance to small towns and regular folks is the reason Mellencamp co-founded Farm Aid alongside Willie Nelson and Neil Young. The concert series has been held every year since the first show in Champaign, Illinois, in 1985.
Two years later, Farm Aid III came to Lincoln.
The original idea was that they’d put on one massive concert to benefit family farmers and raise awareness for their plight. If they did that, the federal government would have to take notice and do something.
“Why are all these small towns going out of business? Because everybody went to live in the city? No. It was because corporate farming had moved in and run the small family farmer out of business. Which is why we started Farm Aid,” Mellencamp told CBS.
“Every time I fly on an airplane,” Wanchic said, “you look out of that window, and what do you see? You see rural America. That is really the backbone and fabric of what America really is. We want to make sure that tradition carries on for many generations.”
Farm Aid concerts continue each September. The shows have raised more than $53 million to date.
About 70,000 people attended the 1987 show in Lincoln, which featured Mellencamp, Nelson and Young as well as Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Steppenwolf, Lyle Lovett, John Denver, Lou Reed, Joe Walsh and others.
Broadcast live around the country, it was the biggest concert ever held in Nebraska, netting $1.9 million to help farmers.
Nelson kicked things off. Mellencamp played “Small Town.” Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge did a duet. John Denver did “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Nelson and others gathered to close the show, singing “This Land Is Your Land” while fireworks exploded in the background.
“We were kind of the host band,” Wanchic said. “We’d play five or six times a day. I can’t remember who all we played with that day. But I do remember Lou Reed. It seemed like such a juxtaposition. There I am onstage, playing some of the most incredibly oddball songs to play in Lincoln. It was a remarkable event.”
A year earlier, Mellencamp had played a three-song set and joined 10,000 farmers for a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri. The next year, just three months before the Lincoln show, he testified in front of the Senate’s agriculture committee, calling attention to farmers who were losing their land.
“This isn’t new for me to be worried about farmers,” Mellencamp said at the time. “I grew up in a farm community of 15,000. My friends are all farmers.”

John Mellencamp has often tried to call attention to the plight of America’s farmers, including in 1986, when he played a three-song set in a parking lot as part of a protest in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Despite the risk of alienating some fans, Mellencamp, Nelson and Young continue to rally around their favorite causes, especially Farm Aid.
In a 2014 interview, Nelson told The World-Herald he believes calling attention to a problem is the best way to get people in power to act.
“People with a voice should use it,” Nelson said. “Everyone has a voice of one kind or another. ... If we keep telling them about it over and over again, maybe they will (take notice).”
Mellencamp has certainly never stopped trying. That’s likely one reason he’ll be playing the Orpheum — a more intimate setting — instead of one of Nebraska’s two large arenas.
But Mellencamp wouldn’t be Mellencamp if he did it any other way.
“Oh, I’ve been booed,” he told CBS. “And I remember Neil Young walked up to me after it was over, and he goes, ‘Whatever you said, keep saying it.’ ”
2  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / TOUR JOHN'S NYC SOHO LOFT WITH ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST on: April 10, 2019, 06:27:21 pm
During John's time in New York City performing his three sold out shows at The Beacon Theater on The John Mellencamp Show Tour, he met with Elizabeth Quinn Brown of Architectural Digest for a tour of his SoHo loft.  “To live an artist’s life, you have to create every day,” he says. “When I was there, there was no place for me to paint, no place for me to write, so I bought this little place.” Read this exclusive interview and view photos of the loft taken by William Abranowicz HERE. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/john-mellencamp-soho-loft?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=HERE&utm_campaign=tour2weeksaway
3  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / The Sarasota Post: The John Mellencamp Show Brings Middle America to Ruth Eckerd on: April 01, 2019, 09:26:02 am
The Sarasota Post: The John Mellencamp Show Brings Middle America to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL
04.01.2019 - The Sarasota Post - By Vicky Sullivan

Indiana’s musical son John Mellencamp played two sold-out shows on Friday & Saturday night in Clearwater. The Midwest native brought the hits and then some. Starting off the show with a 24-minute film excerpt about his life and career from his 2017 full-length film “Plain Spoken”.You can catch the entire film on Netflix. It is a well-done film, part documentary, part live music with John narrating and telling the stories of his life.

Mellencamp came to the stage with “Lawless Times”, a song about the current state of life in the U.S. from streaming music to the Catholic church. John has always been regarded as a musical spokesman for the Midwest, but the reason his music resonates across the nation is that he writes about the human condition in America. His experience in the music business from being named “John Cougar” to sell records to fighting his way to being the real Mellencamp has given him a unique view. He is the quintessential rebel who does it his way whether writing music or painting artwork which is now being shown in museums.

The first hit on the setlist was 1985’s “Small Town” which brought the audience to its feet. Many people are from the big cities but most of our country is made up of small towns from east to west which is why people relate to it. Everyone knows the story of John coming from small town Seymour, Indiana and making it big in music and on MTV. 1985 also brought the advent of the “Farm Aid” concert. John, Neil Young and Willie Nelson organized the first show and today are on the board of directors along with Dave Matthews, still putting their money where their mouths are helping the American farmer! Check out the website for Farm Aid

John Mellencamp played at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FLAnother thought-provoking tune was “Easy Target”, from his critically acclaimed album “Sad Clowns and Cowboys”. Lyrics telling the real-time story about all of us being easy targets of the random shooter to the struggle of Black Lives Matter. Mellencamp has never minced his words and sings for the downtrodden. He makes a huge statement at the end of the emotional song by taking a knee! The audience was extremely quiet with the exception of a few people clapping.

John Mellencamp brought his great band with him to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FLMid-show John does a tribute to his grandmother, who always called him “Buddy”, with a story of a spiritual experience he had with her. Touching and humorous it takes him into his tune about life with “Longest Days” from his 2008 album Life, Death, Love, Freedom. The second half of the show starts a laundry list of hits with “Crumblin’ Down” and the audience is up on their feet for the majority of the rest of the show. The band leaves the stage with John alone on acoustic guitar for a sing-along of one of his biggest hits, “Jack & Diane”, where the audience is really doing most of the singing, knowing every word and every clap! It is a fun, youthful moment for the mostly boomer audience, including Mellencamp with a smile on his face.

John’s band is one of the best in the business. Guitarist Mike Wanchic has been around since the beginning. John tells a hilarious story about the band coming here in the 70’s and Mike getting arrested with John going to the jail to bail him out. Andy York on guitar and drummer Dane Clark have been in the band since the 90’s. John Gunnell is on bass and Troye Kinnett on keyboard and accordion. Kinnett and the amazing violinist Miriam Sturm perform a duet of accordion and violin that includes a nod to John’s first hit “I Need a Lover”.

John Mellencamp plays his guitar at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL“Authority Song” has the audience singing with fists in the air in agreement “Authority always wins!” “Pink Houses” is the anthem for middle America. Of course, John’s line of “Working in some high rise and vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico” was not lost on the Tampa Bay audience who were yelling and howling at the line. The #1 hit “Cherry Bomb”, a tribute to the 60’s nightclub scene, closed the show. John is one of our most prolific songwriters writing about life during this era in the U.S.A. He has come a long way from the days of “John Cougar”, but we are glad he will still sing the songs about them.

You can find tour dates and info at mellencamp.com
4  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Tampa Bay Times Clearwater Review on: March 30, 2019, 08:14:54 am
https://www.tampabay.com/music/review-john-mellencamp-cranks-the-volume-gets-righteous-at-ruth-eckerd-hall-in-clearwater-20190330/
For a few minutes after the house lights went dark Friday night at Ruth Eckerd Hall, some 2,100 fans could’ve been forgiven for wondering: Wait, where is John Mellencamp going?

Before Mellencamp took the stage in Clearwater, he screened a cinematic 24-minute film looking back at his career and philosophy on music, replete with sweeping shots of combines, cornfields and slo-mo brush strokes on canvas – a Koyaanisqatsian tone poem on artistic expression in America.

“I don’t think that anybody in 1975 imagined that we would still be doing this today,” Mellencamp said in a voice-over. “The longevity of this is surprising.”

It all felt a bit like the start of a farewell, something more than a few of Mellencamp’s peers are doing these days.

But then the 67-year-old songwriter ambled out in a dark mechanic’s jumpsuit, surrounded by a band in suits and gowns. And like the Indiana farm boy he is, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work.

In the first of two sold-out nights in Clearwater, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer relied less on the nostalgic pull of his can’t-miss heartland hits, and more on grit, spittle and riff after riff after riff. Forget dusty farewells and dabs with a monogrammed hankie. Mellencamp and his band seem out to prove they can still R-O-C-K in the USA.

“People love to talk about old times,” he said. “The only problem when you talk about old times is you gotta be old to talk about them.”

True, Mellencamp does move gingerly at times, unlike the spry Johnny Cougar of the '70s. But he does in fact still move, especially on some old favorite soul and blues numbers. On the Louis Armstrong song Long Gone (From Bowling Green), he led an impassioned call and response with the crowd. And on Robert Johnson’s Stones In My Passway, he shimmied, shuffled and screamed atop a randy slide guitar, busting out his best James Brown or Charles Bradley.

His voice, while weathered as whiskey-soaked boot leather, isn’t dead by a long shot. Instead he’s steering into the gravelly growl of his age, channeling Tom Waits or the best parts of Dylan on the stompy Troubled Land and accordion-buoyed Longest Days. Even Jack and Diane, delivered as an acoustic campfire strum-along, saw him swapping impassioned verses with the audience.

And on nearly every plugged-in song -- Lonely Ol’ Night, Crumblin’ Down, Paper In Fire -- Mellencamp punched and poked and snapped his wrists as his band, particularly guitarists Mike Wanchic and Andy York and violinist Mirium Sturm, muscled out righteous, furious chords across the stage.

At times, the message fit the music. Ever the rabble-rouser, Mellencamp railed against authority on Lawless Times and We Are the People, and worked overtime for the working man on the raging Rain on the Scarecrow. His most overtly activist song by far was 2017’s Easy Target, which touched on living wages and Black Lives Matter, and ended with Mellencamp, that hero of flyover country, bending to a knee at center stage.

If it bothered the Hoosiers in the house, they didn’t let it show on beloved singles like the inviting, communal Check It Out; the stir-'em-up rocker Authority Song; or the forever-timeless Pink Houses, still anthemic after all these years, especially when the Clearwater crowd belted out the line about vacationing down at the Gulf of Mexico.

Much earlier on, he jolted fans to their feet with perhaps his best-known hit, Small Town. And when he got to the last verse, and he sang the line "That’s probably where they’ll bury me," he took a step back, and milked that pause as the whole house sustained their applause.

In that moment, the crowd had to imagine an America without John Mellencamp. Someday he’ll stop for good, and that’ll be that. The retirement will be real, and the film will fade to black.

But then he and the band kicked back in, and the crowd pumped their fists and stomped along. Life goes on, as Jackie once sang to Diane. And for a little while longer, so does Johnny Cougar.
5  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / St. Louis Post- Dispatch: John Mellencamp Connects With Fans In A Show Of Hits, on: March 27, 2019, 01:30:20 pm
St. Louis Post- Dispatch: John Mellencamp Connects With Fans In A Show Of Hits, Covers And Quiet Moments

03.14.2019 - By Daniel Durchholz Special to the Post-Dispatch ;

Not many concerts come with a kind of spoken-word user’s manual, but John Mellencamp’s show Tuesday night at Stifel Theatre did.
“Here’s the way this is gonna go down tonight,” he said a few songs into his 100-minute performance. “We’re gonna do some songs you know, some songs you don’t know, some songs you can sing along with and some songs you can dance to.”

He noted there would also be some quieter moments and said, “If you’re one of those (expletives) that need to scream during the quiet section, can you please go out in the hallway and do that?”

That’s the kind of announcement nearly every concert could use.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer delivered on his promise with a set dominated by hits, favorites and a couple of n cover tunes, and the audience held up its part of the bargain, too. But it was those quiet and lesser-known songs that gave the evening some of its most resonant moments.

Mellencamp performed a stark, dramatic take of his 2017 song “Easy Targets,” which describes the country’s disregard for its most vulnerable citizens and mourns “our country’s broken heart.” Dressed in workman’s coveralls, Mellencamp sang the song’s concluding lines and took a knee as the stage lights dimmed.

Earlier, he sang “We Are the People,” another song of solidarity with the less fortunate and a word of support — but also a warning — for those in power. “You see yourself as a leader/You know our thoughts are with you,” he sang, adding, “If you try to divide and conquer/We’ll rise up to impeach you.”

If that sounds like a promise/threat addressing issues of the day, consider that it’s a song — with slightly altered lyrics — from “The Lonesome Jubilee,” an album released in 1987.

Mellencamp, an Indiana native, is rock’s poet laureate of the heartland, but his songs form a more complex perspective on the region than the typical red state/blue state view that dominates the national discussion. The small towns and farms he sings about have been hit hard economically and are politically mixed. They’re purple, like a bruise.

He also offered acoustic takes on “Longest Day,” a song based on wisdom received from his grandmother, and a loud audience sing-along of one of his signature tunes, “Jack & Diane.”

Mellencamp made fine use of his six-piece backing band, which included guitarists Andy York and Mike Wanchic and violinist Miriam Sturm. They added dynamic twists and turns to hits such as “Small Town” and “Lonely Ol’ Night” and did a rollicking version of Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” the show’s sole offering from “Other People’s Stuff,” Mellencamp’s 2018 album of cover tunes.

The latter part of the show was devoted to hits, including “Paper in Fire,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song” and, of course, “Pink Houses.”

Mellencamp told a story of his first time playing St. Louis — “probably in ‘73 or ‘74,” he said. In the middle of the night, he was called to bail Wanchic out of jail on a charge of “lewd vagrancy.”

He thought about what those words meant and said, “Well (expletive), we live in that way in Indiana every day.”

Following that trip down memory lane, Mellencamp ended the show with a song that is itself pure nostalgia, “Cherry Bomb.”

TThere was no encore or opening act. Instead, the evening had kicked off with a 20-minute film that emphasized Mellencamp’s dedication to his art and attempts to stay true to it — a point underlined perfectly by the show that followed.

Set list
“Lawless Times”

“Troubled Land”

“Minutes to Memories”

“Small Town”

“Long Gone (From the Bowlin’ Green)”

“Stones in My Passway”

“We Are the People”

“Lonely Ol’ Night”

“Check It Out”

“Longest Days”

“Jack & Diane”

“Easy Target”

“Overture”

“Rain on the Scarecrow”

“Paper in Fire”

“Crumblin’ Down”

“Authority Song”/“Land of 1000 Dances”

“Pink Houses”

“Cherry Bomb”

“Long Gone (From the Bowlin’ Green)” (reprise)

Tags: St. Louis Post-Dispatch The John Mellencamp Show Revie
6  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / All-you-can-Mellencamp buffet of new and classic songs, stories — and a movie on: March 27, 2019, 01:28:58 pm
https://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/article228329004.html

In a world that lives on social media, the announcement before the John Mellencamp show at Ovens Auditorium on Friday felt unusual.

“We are deadly serious about this — no photography or videography is allowed during the performance,” a voice proclaimed over a loudspeaker, her words overcoming the chatter in the women’s restroom line.

“Deadly serious,” one concertgoer repeated.

But first, a surprisingly slow start: a short movie kicked off the show. The crowd erupted in applause when the lights dimmed, only to slowly sink back down into their seats upon discovery that Ovens had become a makeshift movie theater. As fans not-so-patiently waited in their seats, it would be easy to forget that we were actually here for a live event.

The flick took us through Mellencamp’s career, from the early days as John Cougar to his overnight fame and then a decision after a heart attack at 42 to take a step back to figure out the important things.

A touching film, but the real fans knew much of the story anyway, did they not?

“The first time I heard John Mellencamp, I was at my grandmother’s house in Michigan,” a male voice said on the film, and the crowd in Charlotte chuckled — many were likely grandparents themselves, playing “Jack & Diane” for their own grandchildren in their own homes.

Soon enough, the crowd grew weary of the movie. Rounds of clapping would start and then stop as people waited impatiently for their star. “Play the music!” someone yelled from the balcony at one point. It would be more than 20 minutes before he took the stage.

Finally, after another announced reminder — this one to put away phones completely — Mellencamp himself took the stage. He sang a combination of old, semi-old and new songs. The crowd put up with the first few tunes, not sure whether to sit or stand and choosing a combination of both. When he finally performed something we all knew, “Small Town,” the auditorium awakened.

It was — finally — time to see a Mellencamp show.

The “deadly serious” directive must have just been a suggestion, as the digital point-and-shoots and the phones were out soon enough. Guests tried to be sneaky when breaking Mellencamp’s rule. But overly brightened screens and flashes forgotten to be turned off glowed, evidence from rows away.

Several people even unknowingly turned phone flashlights on while fumbling in the dark to sneak a chance at a pixelated, zoomed-in photo of the star. Some guests would quickly pop out the camera just to take a picture, flash on, only to accidentally shoot the back of the person’s head in front of them.

Did Mellencamp even make it into those photos? Likely not. Songs were captured on video — in grainy, wobbly frames, a few seconds at a time — before security would either approach or the person would decide on their own to pull back the camera, jerking it back down.

The woman who had spoken up in the bathroom earlier must have been wondering what in the world those around her were doing wasting time. Or she was lost in the show itself, which was going on for those focused on the music and amateur filmmakers alike.

We all knew Mellencamp is a gifted storyteller in song, but his spoken word was just as entertaining. His stories ranged from a funny one about a band mate being arrested for lewd vagrancy to a sweet one about how his grandmother told him “life is short, even in its longest days,” which set up his 2008 ballad “Longest Days.”

This one was sung to the audience during what Mellencamp called the “quiet session” in the middle of the show. During this time, he asked for no hooting and hollering — if guests were inclined to yell, they should go do it in the hallway, he said.

Plenty of cheering was to be had during the livelier hits. “Crumblin’ Down,” “Jack & Diane” were crowd favorites. Seeing “Pink Houses” performed live was alone a reason to attend; it was unforgettable.

At the end of the night, as the rest of the band left the stage, Mellencamp stayed back for one more moment with his fans. “Ain’t we all lucky to be alive?” he sang out, then offered a quick “Goodnight, you guys,” running off the stage — no encore needed.
7  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville on: March 27, 2019, 01:27:32 pm
http://www.musiccitynashville.net/files-arts-2019/fa-2019-03-20-john-mellencamp.php?fbclid=IwAR3hTUfOUZhryTvahunBIp5KtCmwax8iEznl2VyeToGs8HVaNbWdrjse3fQ

John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch
It really wasn't supposed to work out this way. John Mellencamp was hoping to become a painter. To help pay for art school he would sing in bands and ultimately he was discovered in the mid-seventies. Soon he would be marketed as a hot commodity leading to eventual rock stardom. That tale was told during a short documentary film shown before John's first of two sold-out concerts at the Ryman Auditorium on March 19, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Mellencamp played his songs and "Other People's Stuff" in Nashville.
In Nashville, Mellencamp cut a figure that was reminiscent of two local icons - Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. The latter due to his all black attire and the former because the outfit was a blue-collar style jumpsuit. With only a splash of white showing from his exposed T-shirt beneath the traditional workingman's clothes John was letting you know he sided more with the average Joe than the glamour and glitz preferred by the King of Rock and Roll. But, like those amazing legends Mellencamp had plenty of hits and rock radio staples to play for the congregation at the city's Mother Church.

Like church, Mellencamp informed us that there would be plenty of hand clapping, dancing and sing alongs and some quiet moments, too. He then proceeded to lead a 100-minute revival that was full of purpose and musical manna mixed with revered songs containing both spiritual and social messages.

John's own journey to become the beloved musician he is today wasn't always an easy one and the opening movie made it a point to let the audience know Mellencamp was self-aware of these facts. He let himself be conned early on into changing his surname to "Cougar" to concoct an image and obscure his small town roots. He also confessed to allowing stubbornness and selfishness to side-track his career at the peak of his momentum. A heart attack would sideline him for another three years in the midst of a comeback.

 John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville
John Mellencamp and his six-piece band were impressive in Music City.
Despite beating himself up a bit over these facts the heartland rocker never really slowed down and on his 24th album and latest record Other People's Stuff remains prolific as he continues his evolution from rock star to self-described "Poet" and folk singer of his generation. And, despite it all, Mellencamp did become known for his expressive impressionist paintings such as the one that adorns the cover of this covers album.

But, it is his earnest pop rock confections that he would become most famous for even as they drew upon his ample visual art talent. Consider the colorful "Pink Houses" and the starker "Rain on the Scarecrow" that both contained beautiful brushstrokes that resonated with the masses as they came to life with vivid imagery during the MTV revolution of the early 80's.

The stage set-up for this North American spring tour run of 36 dates was noticeably dominated by darker shades and hues perhaps reflecting these trying and uncertain times. But, the activist and philanthropist was content to let his music do most of the talking except for a quick summation of his political position as the spoken introduction to "Easy Target" that had Mellencamp professing his beliefs in equality, fairness and justice for all.

 John Mellencamp Puts His Masterstrokes On Display in Nashville
John Mellencamp led a mini-revival in the Mother Church.
"I'm up from Indiana down to Tennessee," John truthfully sang in his song "Peaceful World" and Mellencamp closed the night by reminiscing about old times - specifically coming to Nashville during the early Johnny Cougar days. He told a story about having to bailout longtime bandmate, guitarist and sidekick Mike Wanchic from a Davidson County holding cell. Earlier on that same evening the pop singer had been hustled in a game of billiards by longtime Nashvillian "Minnesota Fats" to the tune of 500 dollars.

Still, Mellencamp was as cool as a cue ball in Mid-Tenn as he and his talented six-piece band painted a powerful portrait of an American treasure in action. By the end of the show the one-time "Cougar" let a wry Cheshire cat smile emerge just a few times through his tough guy exterior. We can chalk that up to the fact that he was having as much fun as we were.

Setlist: Lawless Times | Troubled Land | Minutes to Memories | Small Town | Long Gone (From the Bowlin' Green) (Louis Armstrong cover) | Stones in My Passway (Robert Johnson cover) | We Are the People | Lonely Ol' Night | Check It Out | Longest Days | Jack & Diane | Easy Target | Overture (instrumental with violinist and accordionist) | Rain on the Scarecrow | Paper in Fire | Crumblin' Down | Authority Song / Land of 1000 Dances | Pink Houses | Cherry Bomb | Long Gone (From the Bowlin' Green) Reprise
8  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / John To Receive The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award June 5th on: March 14, 2019, 09:19:10 am
John To Receive The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award June 5th
03.11.2019 - WhyHunger to Honor Musician John Mellencamp at 20th Annual Chapin Awards Gala
--GRAMMY Winner fêted for work with farm community-
WhyHunger — a leader in the movement to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world—will present singer-songwriter John Mellencamp with the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award during the 20th annual WhyHunger Chapin Awards on June 5, 2019 at City Winery in New York.

Mellencamp, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and recipient of the Woody Guthrie Award and the John Steinbeck Award, has used his music to document the ‘struggles of ordinary people seeking to make their way’ according to Rolling Stone. In 1985, he co-founded and organized Farm Aid, a groundbreaking concert to raise awareness and funds to strengthen America’s family farmers. He continues to serve on the organization’s board of directors.

“From his advocacy to his work with Farm Aid, John has continuously been a voice for promoting sustainable farming practices aimed at supporting farmers and their communities,” said Noreen Springstead, executive director, WhyHunger. “We are thrilled to recognize John. Not only does he embody the artist activist legacy of the Chapin Awards, but his decades long work to help build a just food system aligns well with WhyHunger’s mission to ensure the right to nutritious food for all.”

The ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award shines a spotlight on artists who have proven their commitment to striving for social justice and creating real change in combatting hunger worldwide. Over the past 20 years, WhyHunger has honored a cadre of artists at their annual Chapin Awards including Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Barbra Streisand, Yoko Ono Lennon, Tom Morello, Jon Batiste, Jackson Browne, Judy Collins, Emmylou Harris, Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels, Michael McDonald, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Kenny Rogers.

Emceed by Pete Dominick, comedian and host of SiriusXM’s Stand Up with Pete Dominick, the Chapin Awards gala raises critical funds to support WhyHunger’s work to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world.

To learn more about the WhyHunger Chapin Awards gala and to purchase tickets, visit whyhunger.org/chapinawards.

About WhyHunger
Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger believes a world without hunger is possible. We provide critical resources to support grassroots movements and fuel community solutions rooted in social, environmental, racial and economic justice. WhyHunger is working to end hunger and advance the human right to nutritious food in the U.S. and around the world. Learn more at whyhunger.org.

9  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Mellencamp Show’ reveals an old rocker who can still let loose on: February 23, 2019, 03:06:29 pm
https://www.providencejournal.com/entertainmentlife/20190222/mellencamp-show-reveals-old-rocker-who-can-still-let-loose

One cue that this wouldn’t be the typical concert was its billing as “The John Mellencamp Show” and the note that it would start promptly at 8 p.m.

The lights at the Providence Performing Arts Center dimmed at exactly that hour Friday night for a 15-minute biographical film about the 67-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer featuring clips of interviews, American Bandstand and MTV appearances and his disembodied voice talking about an industry that made him change his name, tried to direct his music and contributed to his heart attack at the age of 42.

The film stoked the audience for the arrival of Mellencamp and his six-piece band for a 90-minute music set that almost lifted the roof off the building. As Mellencamp, self-billed as the “American Poet,” told the largely middle-aged crowd, “There’s going to be songs you know, songs you don’t know, songs you can sing along to and songs you can dance to.” And that was no lie.

Mellencamp, who’s logged 22 Top 40 hits and earned a Grammy Award, has been rocking his own blend of blues, rockabilly and solid rock ‘n’ roll since the 1970s but he sounded as fresh and as powerful as ever, and when he slung low in that squatty rocker’s crouch to wail on his guitar for “Paper and Fire,” it may as well have been 1985 all over again.

True to his statement, Mellencamp offered solid versions of such hits as “Small Town,” “Pink Houses,” “Jack and Diane” and “Lonely Ol’ Night,” his husky voice rolling easily over the lyrics that tell tales of Middle Americans’ struggles and dreams. He also introduced the audience to others like the more bluesy sound of “Lawless Times,” “Minutes to Memories” and a grittier “Troubled Land.”

His band featured prominently at points, too, lending a more countrified sound to the tunes. The guitars of Mike Wanchic and Andy York ground out a fiery chorus in “Pink Houses” while Troye Kinnett on accordion and Miriam Sturm on violin combined for a riveting overture that led into “Rain on the Scarecrow.” Sturm’s playing was fierce and full bodied, whether she was offering a wail back on “Easy Target” or haunting notes in “We Are the People.”

The show was well-paced with a soulful acoustic section in the middle for which Mellencamp demanded quiet attention, telling anyone wanting to shout to go into the lobby for a beer. His down-home demeanor added charm to “Longest Days,” a song prompted by his elderly grandmother telling him “life is short, even in its longest days.”

The acoustic portion of the set darkened a bit with “Full Catastrophe” and “Easy Target,” but Mellencamp kicked it back in high gear with a raucous version of “Crumblin’ Down” before rounding out the night with more nostalgia in “Authority Song” and “Cherry Bomb.”
10  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / A Serenade for Alternative America: John Mellencamp in Peoria, IL on: February 19, 2019, 11:37:38 am
https://thedailyripple.org/index.php/component/content/article/97-contributor-dm/371146-a-serenade-for-alternative-america-john-mellencamp

I sang my songs for millions of people / Sang good and bad news…

- John Mellencamp, “Void in My Heart.”

 

The role of the troubadour, a Middle Ages musician, was to travel from village to village and kingdom to kingdom, to share with the common people important developments of war, famine, power, and palace intrigue. Because literacy rates were low, the troubadour told the news in rhyme and with melody so that it would become memorable to the audience. John Mellencamp once said that had he not achieved any success in the rock and roll genre, he would have lived as a modern troubadour – throwing his old acoustic guitar in the back of a rusty, used car, and driving the highways, county roads, and backstreets of America, singing his songs and telling his stories to whatever barroom or coffeehouse crowd would listen.

 

After selling millions of records, scoring 23 top ten hits, and winning nearly every musical award of prestige available to a performer in his generation, his professional prosperity is inarguable. Remove the accessories and amenities of “rock star” status, however, and it becomes equally clear that Mellencamp’s artistic mission and message is no different from the unpackaged and primitive troubadour of antiquity. Rather than an old car with a loud muffler and dented fender, Mellencamp arrives in town in a tour bus, and instead of a single guitar in a scratched case, a truckload of instruments accompanies he and his band.

 

On February 15, 2019, John Mellencamp and his bandmates brought their storytelling show of rock, folk, and blues to Peoria, Illinois. The largest city on the Illinois River, with a population of approximately 120,000, Peoria dwarfs the “small town” of Mellencamp’s origin – Seymour, Indiana – but it shares with Seymour the qualification of “where they are not,” as in the advice Mellencamp recalls Pete Seeger giving him for creative longevity, “Go where they are not.”

 

As his international popularity proves, Mellencamp writes and sings songs that resonate with people who live “out in the sticks,” to use a phrase from his own “Cherry Bomb,” and those who, as Jack suggests in “Jack and Diane,” “run off to the city.” The origin of his art, even so, has the particularity of roots in where “they are not.” The characters who populate his songs soar and suffer far from the glamour of Hollywood, the gild of New York, and the governance of Washington DC.

 

The songs that Mellencamp sang – the stories he told – in Peoria presented vignettes and vistas of an alternative America. Although Mellencamp made only one overtly political statement from the stage, it was impossible to separate the American dream of Mellencamp’s music from the monstrosity currently troubling the country.

 

A twenty minute documentary film on Mellencamp’s life in music, and the impact of his songs on his fans, opened the evening. The smoky voice of the singer narrated footage from throughout his career, describing the highs and lows of his experiences, cataloguing everything from his begrudging acceptance of the “Cougar” moniker at his management and record company’s insistence to his heart attack in the early 1990s. The consistency through it all was his commitment to make real music, regardless of whether or not, at least in the beginning, he had a fake name. The testimonies of a diverse range of people, including a painter in Brooklyn and a pastor in Phoenix, who claim Mellencamp as inspiration acted as evidence of his accomplishment.

 

It is tempting to see the broadcast of the documentary to a captive audience as self-congratulation, but it is just as easy to view it as the narration of another story – Mellencamp’s own – a story that stands in stark contrast to the contemporary musical culture of frivolity and flimsiness. It is hard to imagine many of the current crop of hitmakers rolling into Peoria, 35 years from now to sing songs that make people raise their fists, swing their hips, and wipe their tear-filled eyes.

 

If art and authenticity are casualties of America’s current decline into corruption and silliness so too are many other principles and ideals, as the opening song dramatized. While his band held their instruments, and his two guitarists – Andrew York and Mike Wanchic – exchanged bluesy licks and loud shouts, Mellencamp took the stage backlit; his Elvis Presley hair showing streaks of gray. He counted four, and the band jumpstarted “Lawless Times,” the closer from 2014, “Plain Spoken.”

 

Mellencamp’s fiery and angry voice describes the criminality of Wall Street, Catholic priests, and even internet piracy to depict a nation out of control, drunk on its own avarice and ego. The music, unlike the rage of its subject, is full of whimsy. Reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s recent records, it is a traditional shuffle full of light instrumentation. Like Dylan, Mellencamp takes turns that are comedic, closing the gap between comedy and tragedy. If everyone is jockeying for their own power, profit, and pleasure, while they watch the foundation of their nation slip away, maybe in addition to a crisis, it is also a bad joke.

 

“Lawless Times” transitioned seamlessly into “Troubled Land,” a dark blues song from another recent Mellencamp release, chronicling the despair too prevalent in a country at war with itself. Dane Clark, pulling off the first of many musical tricks, kept a basic beat but did so with aggression and dynamism. The guitars had the crunch and grind of a bulldozer, while Miriam Strum played her violin with symphonic beauty. One of the best kept secrets of rock and roll music is that Mellencamp has one of the most capable and powerful bands in the business. No matter what story he tells, their execution of his composition enables his music to resound with full force.

 

Mellencamp’s vocal was its roughest in the earliest portions of the show, but with each song, he was able to hit higher notes and shout with greater clarity. It was almost as if the urgency of his lyrics, the excellence of his band, and the promise of his purpose strengthened his voice with each second.

 

To round out the opening quartet, Mellencamp returned to his classic record, Scarecrow. An album elemental to the emergence of the Alternative Country genre, it animates the lives of family farmers, lonely lovers, and elderly mill workers. “Minutes to Memories,” one of the best songs Mellencamp has written, had the Peoria audience singing along loudly to lyrics like, “An honest man’s pillow is his piece of mind.” It was an endorsement of an America alternative to the country visible on television news channels. It was an endorsement of an America where money does not dictate behavior, but virtues of fidelity, integrity and compassion are triumphant. “Small Town” brought a roaring audience to its feet.

 

Mellencamp has always expressed derision of the term, “Heartland Rock,” but if such a classification is legitimate, these are among it most definitive songs. They are rock and roll with twang – simple but emotive guitar meets an earnest vocal; plainspoken yet poetic verses of substance leading into booming, anthemic choruses, a solid and propulsive drum beat more Motown than British invasion.

 

The only break in the music was Mellencamp’s preemptive admonition of “loud motherfuckers” who like to scream during the “quiet section” of the show. “Do it in the hallway,” the singer said before adding, “And I heard someone yelling when I came out here, ‘Start the show!’ If you don’t like it, fucking leave. I don’t want you here.”

 

An alternative America, unlike the culture accessible through social media, is one where not every thought and feeling is worthy of amplification, and not every outburst and vulgarity is welcome.

 

The “quiet section” followed a few additional full band performances – a muscular take on Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway,” the populist protest song, “We Are the People,” an especially rollicking “Lonely Ol’ Night,” and the melancholic folk meets rock depiction of middle class life, “Check It Out.”

 

Acoustic versions of “Longest Days,” “Jack and Diane,” bolstered by a deafening crowd sing-a-long, “The Full Catastrophe,” with Mellencamp channeling Frank Sinatra and Tom Waits while the keyboard player provided the sole accompaniment of bluesy and jazzy piano, and “Easy Target,” a ballad paying tribute to Black Lives Matter, complemented each other well. Before playing a note on his acoustic, Mellencamp told the story of the inspiration of “Longest Days.” His grandmother, while dying at the age of 100, told him, “Life is short even in its longest days.” The poignant, heartbreaking and soul caressing performance put Mellencamp’s number 1 hit, “Jack and Diane,” in an entirely new frame, making it clear that even in his early years of rock stardom, Mellencamp was exploring the tragic side of human life, and wrestling with the most universal of all truths: mortality.

 

While the plaintive piano notes of “Easy Target” travelled throughout the theater, Mellencamp declared his belief in “a living wage” and in “equal access to great education” to mitigate and prevent extreme income inequality. As the song ended, the singer took a knee.

 

In the alternative America, art is not reducible to background noise, the farce of “reality” television, or Twitter feeds. It is the medium through which people can explore the most critical of experiences – the life and death matters of urgency in the public square of politics, but also in the private spirit of individual introspection.

 

Within American music, Mellencamp is a prizefighter, and despite his advancing years, which he referenced a few times throughout the Peoria performance, he still is punching hard in championship bouts. Mellencamp’s excellent band returned to the stage, and he led them through fiery and defiant renditions of “Rain On the Scarecrow,” “Paper in Fire,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Authority Song,” and the ultimate Midwest anthem of populist and progressive politics, “Pink Houses.”

 

With his band wearing formal attire, and given his well-earned status of elder statesman of American rock, Mellencamp might no longer seem like the rebel of Johnny Cougar era, but he is every bit as rebellious as he was when he made his debut. His enraged and impassioned delivery of “Rain On the Scarecrow” and “Paper in Fire,” especially following “Easy Target,” demonstrated an authentic fighting spirit of protest, desperately needed in a musical culture that has become far too complacent.

 

Bassist Jon E. Gee fought with his instrument as if he were taming a wild animal during “Crumblin’ Down,” playing a muscular line that would have made Lemmy Kilmister proud. The band plowed through with the pull of a truck, and Mellencamp hit his notes with deftness and emotion. On the next song, when he sang, “I fight authority…” it was easy to take his declaration at face value.

 

Mellencamp more playfully interacted with the audience than on previous tours, often stopping to tell stories about his youth, his children, and his bandmembers. Closing the show with a “song about old times,” “Cherry Bomb,” he led the band through the beautiful and breezy Carolina soul number, painting pictures of an era when “holding hands meant something.”

 

I was not yet born during the days of alternative America that “Cherry Bomb” describes, but hearing a romantic tribute to moments of forgiveness, friendship, optimism, and honesty, I knew that, even if it is nostalgic or overly idealistic, that is exactly where I want to live. 


David Masciotra (www.davidmasciotra.com) is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017).
11  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Articles / Cincy Music Aronoff Center Show Review + Photos on: February 12, 2019, 09:19:56 am
Link to photos https://cincymusic.com/photos/2019/02/john-mellencamp

Review by John Calderas https://cincymusic.com/blog/2019/02/review-john-mellencamp

After more than forty years of making music, John Mellencamp has solidly come into his own. In Mellencamp’s early years, his management tried to mold him into a rock star and tagged him with a series of names that he’s still shaking off (I still reflexively catch myself saying “Cougar” even though he dropped it decades ago). It would have been easy to write him off as another flashy rock singer with a goofy moniker, but even back then it was obvious there was something special underneath that separated him from the pack; nobody’s lining up for sold out theater shows from The Hooters or John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band in 2019.  Maybe it comes from Midwestern roots, maybe it just comes from growing up in a town where excitement is chili dogs and Friday night football and having a moment of clarity that there’s more out there. 

While Mellencamp’s early work hinted at the miniature drama of living in small town Midwest, those themes were easy to lose among straight ahead rockers like “I Need a Lover” or smooth radio gloss like “Ain’t Even Done with the Night”.  You can hear him reaching for it on American Fool (“Jack and Diane”) and getting closer on Uh-Huh (“Pink Houses”), but maybe those songs give themselves up too easily. After he found success and got his feet under him, he paused, pulled back and took a wider world view and let the world fade to black and white. With new perspective, his work came into sharp focus on 1985’s Scarecrow. The black and white cover (by recently-deceased Chicago photographer Marc Hauser) hints at the seriousness of the work within and the opening stark, cinematic lyrics drive that home: “Scarecrow on a wooden cross/Blackbird in the barn/Four hundred empty acres that used to be my farm.” His protagonist went from making out with girls in the back seat to worrying about the family farm going under in the space of five short years. 

Realizing electric guitars were limiting to his new vision, he took it further and stretched out sonically on Lonesome Jubilee, embracing folky instruments and lacing the songs with lovely bits of banjo, dulcimer, dobro, mandolin, accordion and, the greatest addition- Lisa Germano’s sadly beautiful fiddle. As his sonic palette and social awareness expanded, his writing elevated to match his new reach. It was still Reagan-era America and people were promised a new era of rebirth and economic security; working folk were reassured that it was “Morning in America.” But morning light casts long shadows and daybreak hits harder when it’s at the end of a bleary-eyed third shift you had to work to put breakfast on the table.  His confidence and ambition let him tackle the new sound and mature subject matter with a credibility that a young Johnny Cougar could never have mustered. To cap it all, as his influence, social awareness and network spread, he joined with Neil Young and Willie Nelson to start Farm Aid (an organization that supports family farming and is still going strong) and gained a whole new level of street cred. Over the last four decades he’s stayed active with music, film and painting and is ready to release a new album.

Which brings us to last night’s sold-out show at the Aronoff Center (billed as “American Poet – The John Mellencamp Show”). It’s the third date of a tour that will take him across the United States for the next three months. As the lights dimmed, a short film recounting Mellencamp’s history (peppered with interviews with him, soundbites of fans and interviews with a fellow painter) played. A sobering thought is that music was just a side hustle to fund his early painting career. If things had turned out differently, the American songbook would be short a few crucial chapters. And if the sobriquet of “American Poet” is a lot to live up to, he didn’t seem too concerned as he took the stage to massive applause and launched into the first number (“Lawless Times” off 2014’s Plain Spoken).  As the band shifted into a boozy, almost-zydeco mode, he sang tongue-in-cheek about not trusting anyone, even himself:

“Well, I don't trust myself

I don't trust you

Don't get too sick

It'll be the end of you

Don't expect a helping hand

If you fall down

And if you want to steal this song

It can be easily loaded down”

The song is five years old, but it’s wry sense of humor bites even harder today.

While there was always an underlying layer of the blues to his music, it often got blended and diluted with country, rock and folk. He shed his guitar and paced the stage, digging into Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway” and working the lip of the stage with preacher-like fervor as the lights cast him in stark relief. 

He pumped his fists, danced and clapped along with the audience as he fed on the warm reception to “Lonely Ol’ Night” and “Check it Out”

The band exited, and John put on an acoustic guitar and set up the intro to “Longest Days”. He recounted a story about visiting his grandmother when she was bedridden and near the end of her life. She asked him to pray with her and near the close of her prayer she told Jesus that she and John (Buddy) were ready to come home. He was shocked and babbled that he wasn’t ready to come home yet, he had a lot more sinning to do. His grandma chastised him for being sarcastic when she was talking to Jesus and admonished him, “Life is short, even in its longest days”. As enjoyable as the full band numbers were, this song highlighted the simple purity and distillation of a lifetime of songwriting. It made me want to see him do an entire acoustic solo show just to see how the shades of the songs change when they are stripped down to their bare essence.

In the film before the concert, and older clip of John expressed how he got frustrated having certain expectations for performing and the danger of becoming a human jukebox. It seems he’s made peace with it because as he strummed the opening of “Jack and Diane” the crowd rippled with excitement. The crowd sang along, and John moved away from the mic entirely during the chorus. He likely could have just played guitar and let the audience sing the entire number; nobody would have complained.

After that crowd pleaser, he decided to throw a few curveballs.

Much like Bob Dylan, Mellencamp’s voice has weathered as he’s aged. He credits it to cigarettes and still defiantly defends his usage (side note- check out his 2015 appearance on fellow Hoosier David Letterman’s show. John walked out carrying a lit cigarette and didn’t stop puffing for the entire segment. I’ve never seen a segment like it in the modern talk show era). Whether it’s nicotine or an artifact of aging, the slight rasp he had as a young man has grown deeper and craggier. Accompanied only by a somber barroom piano, he transformed “The Full Catastrophe “into something resembling Kurt Weill via Tom Waits. It was a shocking stylistic turn, not one that the whole audience was on board for.  His violinist returned, joined the pianist, and they all doubled down for “Easy Target”, another dark cabaret tune:

“Crosses burning

Such a long time ago

400 years and we still don't, let it go”

It’s not quite Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”, but it’s a long way from the Tastee Freeze.

And just to stretch the audience a bit more before snapping back for the second half, the violinist and accordion player ran through an instrumental medley of several of John’s songs. The audience perked up as the band played the recognizable strains of “I Need a Lover”, maybe expecting Mellencamp to come out and pick up the song, but it was not to be.

Mellencamp has claimed he started the No Depression music movement. It’s arguable, but it’s not hard to see some similarities between artists like Jeff Tweedy or Jay Farrar, at least in the small town midwestern roots, revamping of traditional music and blurring of the lines between rock, folk and country. If he didn’t start it, he at least planted some of those seeds in the 80s

For all the work he’s done in the last few decades, the back half of the show features material solely from his 80s catalog (Uh-huh, Scarecrow, Lonesome Jubilee). It’s a run through of some of his strongest work, a set that could have maybe been the A-side of a beat-up cassette of his hits you would have made back in the day.

The full band reentered, and the guitarists came armed with electric guitars. The drums cracked explosively as they tore into a ferocious version of “Rain on the Scarecrow.”  They pushed to the front of the stage en masse and the force was startling, guitars roaring as the violin cut through them. The band barely paused as they kicked into a Stones-y “Paper in Fire,” smash cut to “Crumblin’ Down,” veered into “Authority Song” (here mashed up with Wilson Pickett’s’ “Land of 1000 Dances”), and finally “Pink Houses.” 

As the evening wound down, John told a story about gathering his kids around years ago and wanting to tell them about the past. He said he’d never been much for nostalgia but felt he should have the discussion. He marveled that after about three minutes his son Hud (then 9) said, “I hate to tell you dad, nobody cares about the past” and walked away.

John pointed to the side of the stage and said his son Hud (now 24) was here tonight with his Cincinnati girlfriend and that it’s ironic now because to them eighteen months is the past. “For me, eighteen months is a nap”. He cracked that he’s not going to sleep anymore, only nap, because you never hear: “John Mellencamp died in his nap…it’s always his sleep”. 

As much as Hud discounted nostalgia, John pulled him and his girlfriend to help out on a song all about nostalgia. Even after that strong run of songs, “Cherry Bomb” was his finest moment. The song has such an easy sway and grace to it, led by the simple steady thwack of the drums, the bounce of the bass that incredible fiddle.  On record, it was a time when the world slowed down, and he was confident enough to let the song breathe and spin out. He even stepped back and let a woman take part of the vocal duties. He realized that he didn’t need to be in every frame of his own movie and his hand was firm enough to guide the song, but light enough not to weigh things down.

Hud and his girlfriend danced and smiled, and he gamely leaned in to help sing the chorus. From time to time, they smiled and put their arms around each other.

The lyric “Seventeen has turned thirty-five/I’m surprised that we’re still livin’” could have come across as maudlin or self-pitying, but it seemed more matter-of- fact.  Like one day you turn around and suddenly your youth is gone, and you have kids of your own to worry about and you just say, “Huh…how did that happen?” If he felt any irony about singing it at 67 it didn’t show. And when he sang, ‘Got a few kids of my own…” and looked lovingly at Hud, it was a perfect moment, maybe one that will only happen in Cincinnati. Maybe someday Hud will tell the story to his kids – if they’ll sit still long enough to listen.
12  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / Bid to Win Concert Tickets and Autographed Guitar on: February 12, 2019, 09:16:08 am
Want to come see John in concert AND give back? You could win a pair of tickets to one of John's upcoming shows and take home an autographed @SilvertoneGuitars Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar. Bid now on @Charitybuzz and help @ChrisEvertCharities provide prevention and intervention programs to eliminate drug abuse and child neglect. https://bit.ly/2UTKAhK

Enjoy two tickets for a John Mellencamp Camp Show performance. Plus, John will personally autograph a Silvertone Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar for you.

Dates   
Experience will occur within the following date range(s):
Mar 09, 2019 to Apr 30, 2019
Experience blackout dates: Exclude all performances at Beacon Theater in NYC
Additional Lot
Details   
Valid for 2 people.
Location of Seats Unknown but artist-list.
To assure your choice please pick performance as soon as possible. Then, winner will be required to provide attendees full names and cell number 2-weeks before listed event date.
Guitar is new.
Guitar will be signed to the name of the winner's choice.
Please allow 1-3 months for signing.
Once details have been confirmed no changes can be made.
All sales are final. All tickets must be used for the event and or experience initially confirmed.
13  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Announcements & Updates / New Tour Merch in the Mellencamp Store on: February 07, 2019, 02:19:39 pm
New Tour Merch is in the Store!
14  MELLENCAMP.COM ANNOUNCEMENTS / Ask Mellencamp.com / Re: VIP stuff on: February 04, 2019, 10:55:51 am
Received mine today...thanks! Stupid question...what is the fabric thing that unfolds?

It is a picnic blanket. 
15  MELLENCAMP DISCUSSION / Introduce Yourself / Re: Hello on: January 31, 2019, 09:13:48 am
Hello from Barnard Castle in England. A tiny little market town with one street and one castle Smiley

I've been listening to John since I was a kid, and just stuck with him. He's the ultimate male singer/songwriter. He somehow managed to speak to me in a small town about some of the issues in life we never think other people understand.

I've recently been picking up the missing albums from my collection, and just managed to get the Rural Route set.

Been a visitor here for a while and figured it was time to join.

WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY!
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